A History of the World According to the College Board - NCTE
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A History of the World According to the College Board

This past weekend I caught a story on NPR: “Changes Coming To AP World History Classes.”  Apparently, teaching all of world history in the AP curriculum is too much for some, so beginning with the 2019-20 school year, on the test, the history of the world will begin at 1450 CE.

Best of motives aside, this seems like some sort of bowdlerization, something NCTE opposes in its Resolution on Opposing Abridgment or Adaptation as a Form of Censorship. 

I’m sure you realize the obvious. Instead of 10,000 years of history across all seven continents, the new test will include roughly a 1000-year time line and no precolonial civilizations. And, despite the fact that The College Board suggests that schools teach two AP world history courses, one precolonial and one post, it’s more likely as things go that the World History AP course will only focus on what will be tested.

AP History teacher Amanda DoAmaral echoed NCTE’s many statements on diversity and inclusion when she spoke during the recent AP World Open Forum in Salt Lake City,  starting with “You cannot tell my black and brown students that their history is not going to be tested and then assume that that’s not going to matter.”

The American Historical Association is watching this situation closely and last week sent a letter to The College Board. They noted,

While recognizing the challenges of teaching the current course with its broad scope, the AHA believes that this particular revision is likely to reduce the teaching of precolonial histories at the high school level. It risks creating a Western-centric perspective at a time when history as a discipline and world history as a field have sought to restore as many voices as possible to the historical record and the classroom.

As for how one might teach the current comprehensive course, AHA Executive Director, James Grossman, notes,

One crucial structural issue that must be kept in mind in debates over AP exams is that the AP exam is supposed to assess whether a student has fulfilled the learning requirements for a college level course. College history courses, especially in areas where comprehensive coverage is simply not possible, increasingly emphasize the goal of students learning how to think about historical issues within the context of the course’s focus.